New York Pride of the Past

Watermarked image of a written letter on a sheet of paper and business card admitting William Bordeau to the National Gay Alliance as a Charter Member

Now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, the image above is of a handwritten note welcoming Bill Bordeau into the National Gay Task Force, and a business card sized membership card.

Authored by Kathleen Daly

At a time when there was a great deal of political and cultural turmoil there was one local New York City man who was a vocal activist for gay rights. Affiliation of any kind with a group like the National Gay Task Force was polarizing for some, especially when this was a time when the American Psychiatric Association, or APA, still had homosexuality classified as a mental illness. In the publication of the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, in 1952, as well as in the second version, “individuals were labeled sick because they did not fit in, not necessarily because they felt afflicted, in pain, or under any kind of mental stress” (Dunn 2017, 183). The stigma that homosexuals had to live under was codified under the guidelines of mental health diagnoses and it took a great deal of fighting back from many groups inside the APA, and a few outside as well, to get those definitions removed finally in late 1973.  Other legal definitions and laws changing, such as the case of 1964’s Civil Rights Act and the fallout within the homosexual community (Bruce 2016, 46-47) gave rise to many people within it wishing to take further action. Continue reading

Burroughs Building: The Opportunity to Prosper in the Nineteenth Century

Authored by Megan Sego

Image Bridgeport Public Library Burroughs Building

Burroughs Building, by Jurgen Frederick Huge (1809-1878); 29 ¼” H x 39 ½” W; 1876. This highly stylized ink and watercolor shows the Burroughs Building in 19th Century Bridgeport, located at the SW corner of Main and John Streets (currently the site of City Trust building). The building eventually housed the Bridgeport Public Library on the second and third floor in starting in 1888 until the current Burroughs Library structure was opened at 925 Broad Street in 1927.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1809, Jurgen Frederick Huge immigrated to the United States, particularly Bridgeport, Connecticut at the age of twenty-one. The year was estimated to be 1830, although records officially claiming Huge in directories first appear in 1862 (“Jurgen Huge”, n.d.). Many German citizens immigrated to the United States in the early to mid-nineteenth century as they, “were forced to endure land seizures, unemployment, increased competition from British goods, and the repercussions of the failed German Revolution of 1848” (“Immigration”, n.d.). The port of Hamburg was known as “the Gateway to the World” as over five million European immigrants used the port travel across the Atlantic Ocean to reach the “land of plenty.” Many opportunities were waiting for those willing to make the ship-ward journey (“Genealoger”, n.d.). Continue reading

Certificate of Passage: Last Ride of “The Put”

Certificate of passage on "The Put"
A certificate of passage on the last Northbound passenger train of the “Put” on May 29th, 1958. The Putnam line ran from Brewster in southern Putnam County down to the Bronx for about 80 years. This small document, located in the Yorktown Museum at Yorktown Heights, an old station along the line, is only a testament to the once expansive railway that ran right through the center of Westchester County (above).

Reaching from the High Bridge area of the Bronx up and Brewster in Putnam County, the Putnam line is an old, and possibly forgotten part of history. In 1869, a group of Boston and New York investors sought to connect the two cities via a railway chartered a third set of tracks between the current Hudson and Harlem lines leaving New York City (Kelley 2005). This venture came to fruition in December of 1880, when the fifty-eight miles of track, serving towns that didn’t have immediate access to railways and passengers were able to use the new line by 1881 (Kelley 2005). However, the economic strain that existed on the Putnam line since its beginnings never really disappeared, despite its success as a passenger train. It was passed between companies, shifted around in purpose, and eventually the connection to Boston was removed by rival railways (Kelley 2005). By 1913, the line had undergone several administration changes before finally falling into the control of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, where it gained the name of ‘Putnam Division’.

In its early days, the Putnam Division was a well used rail line by the many growing towns along its path, providing new opportunities to workers and commuters. Daniel R. Gallo states in an interview that “between 1950 and 1955, the population between Ardsley and Yorktown Heights tripled” due to the use of the Putnam line, which allowed for easy travel between the Westchester County towns and New York City (Strauss 1981). Many of the stations along the Putnam Railway were close to parks and attractions, such as the Lincoln Station and Tibbetts Brook Valley, which in 1927 was developed into a park with swimming pools and walking trails (Brause 2007).

Finally, the financial strain of “The Old Put” lead to its eventual closing in 1958. By its seventy-ninth year of toting passengers, the train line had dwindled to around 300 and was accruing annual deficits of up to $400,000 (Folsom 1958). On its final passage north, Train 947 left the Bronx at 5:47 PM and arrived in Brewster at 8:37 PM: a total of five hundred passengers had boarded the train, celebrating and mourning the last ride of “The Old Put” (Folsom 1958; Kelley 2005). The oldest passenger was 81-year old Henry H. Wells, former Mayor of Brewster, the youngest a 12 year old Michael Fox of North Salem; it carried a variety of passengers from railway workers, schoolchildren, and even bankers (Folsom 1958). Despite the discontinuing of service for “The Old Put”, the party commuters and locals had left potent memories in all involved. This unplanned event demonstrates a small scale of the Vincentian desire to create “global harmony” in the world, and that it is possible for strangers to live harmoniously  (“Our Mission” 2019).

Although the passenger train had come to an end, the freight division of the Putnam line ran until 1981. The five stations along the passenger lines that remained, in Elmsford, Briarcliff Manor, Millwood, Yorktown Heights, and Mahopac, were maintained and used as libraries, museums, parks, offices, and even restaurants through the years (Strauss 1981). Various blog posts, outlining the echoes of the train on the land, and books, such as “The Putnam Division” by Daniel R. Gallo, that record its history keep the memory of this railway alive (Strauss 1981). Today the abandoned rail line is actively used as walking trails, parks, and history trails for those interested in learning more about the “Old Put” and its travels.

References

Brause, Richard. 2007. “Stations Along the Trail on the Putnam Division Right-Of-Way”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
http://bikenorth.zisfein.com/putnamstations.htm

Folsom, Merrill.  1958, May 30th. “The Wheels of ‘Old Put’ Click Out a Sad Accompaniment to Riders’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’”. New York Times, pp. 23.Accessed on: March 17th, 2019
Retrieved from:
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/05/30/79398160.pdf

Kelley, Ed. January/February, 2005. “‘THE OLD PUT’ Suburban New York’s Lost Railroad”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
https://web.archive.org/web/20050914165131/http://www.bjwrr.com/ontrack/put.htm

“Our Mission.” 2019. St. John’s University. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission

Strauss, Michael. (1981, September 13). “MEMORIES CLICK ALONG THE PUTNAM LINE”. New York Times, pp. 29. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/13/nyregion/memories-click-along-the-putnam-line.html

I Nostri Bambini: A Glimpse at the Work of the Italian Welfare League

Authored by Maxwell Schafer

A bright pink flier announcing a gala luncheon and fashion show to be held by the Italian Welfare League. Featured "Man of the Year" is Rudolph Giuliani, and "Woman of the Year" is Susan Lucci. Honoring Aprile Millo.
Image of a flier for a gala luncheon and fashion show hosted by the Italian Welfare League to raise funds for their work. Published in 1989.

In the summer of 1929, Mrs. Giustina Micono and her son arrived at Ellis Island from their home in Naples, Italy (“Death” 1929). Her husband had made a similar trip six years before, saving money to eventually send for them, but perished tragically while constructing a skyscraper just one day after the ship his family was aboard departed for America. Without money or a husband with a job, Mrs. Micono faced almost immediate deportation, but was saved by the Italian Welfare League, which fought on her behalf to be allowed entry, and won.

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Back on Their Feet: The Italian Welfare League and the Ragazzi

Authored by Kyle Randall

A boy with worn features and wrinkles under his eyes that do not belong on a teenager is posed smoking before the photographer.
A young Ragazzi smoking to try to curb his hunger in the aftermath of World War II

 

            Like most of the world, Italy suffered greatly in the first half of the 20th century, as a result of the two World Wars and the Great Depression devastating most developed nations. World War I caused distrust amongst many first world nations, and brought about a massive decrease in trade across the globe. “These policies took several forms such as import tariffs, currency control and quota restrictions” (Perri and Quadrini 2000, 4). The collapse of the economy and subsequent worldwide political strife made way for conflicts that would spark the second World War, sowing even greater turmoil and tragedy into an already struggling nation. After World War II came to a close, Italy’s infrastructure suffered massive damage, and its economy was in shambles.  Thousands of children were left homeless and orphaned.  While Italy would eventually recover, the initial years were difficult. “In the aftermath of World War II, Italy and France like the other European belligerents experienced persistent, rapid, disruptive inflation” (Casella and Eichengreen 1991, 1). With the country as unstable as it was, it was no wonder why the nation had to turn to outside help to care for their orphans. 

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A Festschrift for Mary Katherine Peters: A Testimonial by Friends and Fellow Workers at the State Institute of Agriculture at Farmingdale of the Enduring Esteem and High Regard Held for Mary Katherine Peters.

Authored by Elena Paparatto

This image shows the green front cover of a festschrift. in the middle of the cover, the title states, a testimonial of the enduring esteem and high regard held for Mary Katherine Peters.

This image shows the front cover of the festschrift compiled in honor of Mary Katherine Peters retirement from The New York State Institute of Agriculture in 1939. During her 21 years of service at the institute she managed to positively impact both students and staff leaving behind her a legacy of exceptional work and inspiring service.

In academia, a festschrift is a collection of writing in honor of a scholar usually presented during the lifetime of the recipient. In this case the festschrift is a collection of letters assembled by friends, students, and fellow workers of Mary Katherine Peters (“A Festschrift” 1934).

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The Albert N’Yanza: Exploration and Subjection is the Belgian Congo

Authored by Leanne N. Manna

Written in 1866, The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources, gives an account of Samuel White Baker and his Team’s exploration of central Africa. This two-volume set is currently held at Liberty Hall Museum in Union, NJ.

The Albert N’Yanza, or Lake Albert, lies on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is one of the great lakes of Africa. It has long been an object of fascination and exploration. The presence of books like The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources serve to highlight how celebrated these explorers were. Throughout these narratives there is a common theme of seeking greatness and disregard for the indigenous people. For example, Baker names Lake Albert “in memory of the late illustrious and lamented Prince Consort”(Baker 1866, II). Naming “discovered” landmarks was quite common among explorers. In addition, Romolo Gessi remarked several times in his account of circumnavigating the Albert N’Yanza that people would flee their villages with their belongings as they approached (Gessi 1876, 51-54). This is most likely from fear of whom these new arrivals could be and what they planned on doing. There is a much darker history surrounding the history of exploration in Africa and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo specifically.

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Recognizing Staten Island’s World War II Efforts

Authored by Erin Ajello

A watermarked photograph of blueprints.

This photograph shows Robert Feist’s blueprints of a German rocket from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island. Feist created them as part of a national U. S. Government project.

            As Staten Island is often referred to as the forgotten borough, it unsurprising that it is a place with a rich, forgotten history. The above artifact, a page of missile blueprints from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island, shows a unique part of Staten Island’s war efforts during World War II.     

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Androcles and the Lion: How Theater Made an Identity for the Deaf

Authored by Kylie Feiring

Androcles and the Lion program
Marymount Manhattan College and St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf, Androcles and the Lion, 1971, Marymount Manhattan College, Collection #009, Box 2.

In 1971, Marymount Manhattan College and the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf united forces to present “Androcles and the Lion,” written by Aurand Harris and adapted by Dorothy Dodd. Harris’ plays for children are remarkable, as he had a deep and real understanding of children’s interests and concerns, what they find funny, and what they find important (McCaslin 1984, 115).

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Ahead of the Curve: The Legacy of Empowering Women at Gordon

Authored by Sammy-Jo Watt

An image of Gordon State College building a dressing room for young women

Taken at the end of 1965, this photo shows Gordon Military College providing women their own dressing room despite not being required by law to do so. The college is providing equality among the genders by not only giving women their own, private dressing room but also, at the above words indicate, also increasing their physical education.

Unfortunately, society has not always provided equality among its inhabitants. Dr. Anne Sutherland noted that there is an “urgent need to extend…protection…to women in institutions of higher education” (History Matters, n.d.). Regrettably, the serious issue for discrimination against women was not truly solved with women speaking out, the 19th Amendment, or the Equal Protection Clause. Women could vote but still had difficulty with access to higher education. According to the Law Library, “the Equal Protection Clause does not require states to satisfy the same strict standards for gender discrimination as for racial” (The Law Library, n.d.). Continue reading